To compare the difference in the degree of pain and functional disability of the shoulder in patients who underwent neck dissection for the treatment of head and neck cancer, 23 patients with and 12 patients without spinal accessory nerve preservation were evaluated with a questionnaire and a physical examination. In addition, to determine what effect radiation treatment has on pain and shoulder disability, eight patients who had whole neck radiation but no neck dissection were similarly evaluated. The results of this study show that, on the average, neck dissection patients with their spinal accessory nerve preserved have less pain in their shoulders, less functional disability, and stronger results on their physical examination than did those with their spinal accessory nerve sacrificed. It was also found that the patients who received whole neck radiation treatment without neck dissection had little pain, infrequent and insignificant functional disability, and normal strength on physical examination.
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